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Temperatures in Frederick County are a little warmer this week, but in the next few days we’ll drop well below freezing. Water pipes can burst when temperatures get low enough, so it’s a good idea to be aware of why that can happen and how to prevent it.
Many homes in Northern Maryland are built to withstand cold weather, but if you have an older home that has pipes along outer walls and an unconditioned attic, the “temperature alert threshold” is 20 degrees F. This threshold is based on research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois.
Pipes don’t burst when ice initially forms inside of them, but rather when continued freezing and expansion causes water pressure to build up between the ice blockage and a closed faucet. It’s similar to what happens to a can of soda when it freezes (according to LiveScience.com, “Frozen soda can explosions are not due directly to water expanding as it freezes, but to the resulting pressure put on an isolated pocket of C02”).
If you open a faucet and no water comes out, turn it off quickly and call a trusted licensed Middletown plumber. Don’t attempt to thaw a frozen pipe with a lighter or other type of open flame since this can damage the pipe or even start a fire. If a plumber isn’t able to get to you quickly, put a space heater in the room where you think the frozen pipe is located, or if you have access to hot water, rub hot washcloths on the pipes.
Whether you suspect frozen pipes or you have a problem with your water heater, we can help. Just call our office and we’ll send a skilled, licensed Middletown plumber right over!
It may be the first day of spring, but it clearly doesn’t feel like it in Frederick County! With up to 12 inches of snow expected in parts of Maryland, there’s a possibility that too much snow could settle on your roof and cause plumbing problems.
Your sewer releases gases through a vent stack located on your roof. After a really heavy snow, that vent can become blocked and prevent air pressure from regulating your system. Smelly, potentially dangerous gases can back up into your living space if the problem isn’t addressed quickly.
Signs that your sewer vent is blocked:
Gurgling in drains. You may hear gurgling or see water bubbling up and out of drains. You may even hear gurgling in your toilet after you flush. This happens because air that should be flowing up and out of the sewer vent has nowhere to escape but through the drains.
If your sewer vent is blocked, you may even hear gurgling in drains other than the one you’re using. For example, if you flush a toilet, you may hear gurgling in the tub. This indicates that these two plumbing fixtures share a vent-and it is blocked. In some cases, gurgling noises indicate that there is no vent for that drain or fixture.
Slow Drains. A single slow drain may just mean the drain or pipe is clogged, but if all of the drains in your home are slow and you’re also noticing the other issues we’re describing, blocked sewer vents are very possible.
Sewage Odors. If you smell rotten eggs coming from your drains and toilets, you’re probably smelling air escaping through the drains due to blocked sewer vents. You may even experience headache, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness due to these gases.
Of course the best solution is to clear snow away from the vent and melt any snow that has made its way into the vent, but that may not be possible right away during a snow like we’re expecting. An immediate way to prevent gases from entering your living space is to add water to basement floor drains, empty shower stalls and unused basement toilets. This helps because a blocked vent stack causes water to siphon from water traps in the drain line between each fixture and the main stack. As water is pulled from the traps to replace existing water/air flow, it will allow sewer gases to enter the home. More water in the traps prevents that gas from entering.
To prevent this problem from happening again, your trusted Middletown plumber can replace your vent pipe with a longer one so it’s less likely to become blocked.
Hopefully this will be the last winter storm in Frederick County. If you have plumbing problems now or any time this spring, give us a call.
With snow expected in Frederick County and throughout Maryland tomorrow, and temperatures dropping into the teens next week, it’s a good time to remind area residents how to protect your plumbing in winter weather. As much as we love the business, it’s best to be proactive and be prepared if you want to keep your home running smoothly and everyone in it happy!
We’re not worried about pipes freezing yet, but keep these things in mind when we’re expecting temps to stay below freezing for longer periods.
If you turn your faucet on and nothing comes out (or it’s just a trickle), the pipes could be frozen. To thaw pipes, don’t ever use a flame. Instead:
If a pipe breaks, close the main shut-off valve to prevent flooding. The valve will be in the basement, garage, or outside by the foundation. If you can’t locate a shut-off valve, call the utility company. Then, call Putman Plumbing right away for help!
We’re enjoying mild temperatures for January in Middletown this week, but that could change within a week or even days. Take advantage of the break in the cold to take the steps needed to prevent your pipes from freezing when temperatures drop.
Many pipes are close to the outside of the house, such as those under kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and some are in garages and basements where it gets extra cold. When water in these pipes freezes and expands, the pressure can crack or break the surrounding pipe and lead to a big mess.
To avoid frozen pipes, you have to keep them warm.
When you turn the faucet on and no water or just a trickle comes out, the pipes could be frozen. Don’t keep trying to run the water. Instead, try to thaw the pipes. If you have access to any other water, heat the water in the microwave or on the stove and use it to wet some rags. Rub the hot rags on the pipes to warm them. You can also use a space heater in the room with the frozen pipes or turn up the thermostat.
If a frozen pipe breaks, water will start to flow into your home. Close the main shut-off valve, usually in the basement, garage, or outside by the foundation. If you can’t locate a shut-off valve, call you utility company. When that’s taken care of, call Putman Plumbing right away so we can repair or replace your pipes.
Call Putman Plumbing For All Your Frederick County Plumbing Needs in 2017!
Just as the weather folks predicted, we got a lot of snow in Maryland. Winter Storm Jonas packed a punch in Frederick County and the snow looked pretty as it fell, but now that it’s piled up in our yards and will soon melt, it’s time to think about something not so pretty: water in our basements.
Let’s look at a few things you can do to reduce potential problems.
A 10-foot high pile of snow that’s about 20 feet in diameter contains about 2,600 gallons of water. So if the snow near your house melts and starts to run down along the basement wall, your basement could take in some major water. Move the snow about 3-5 feet from your house to try to avoid a flooding disaster.
Snow melts quickly around the foundation of your home (if you haven’t moved it away from the home as suggested above). Listen to how often you hear the sump pump running. The sump pump’s check valve only lets water flow one way and keeps pumped water from returning back through the line. If the pump running seems to be running very frequently, the check valve could be bad, allowing pumped water to return through it and leading to water in your basement. If you don’t think it sounds right, call a plumber at Putman Plumbing so we can take a look before your basement floods.
It’s still cold in Middletown, so make sure you take all the precautions to keep your pipes from freezing. Leave the heat running, open those cabinet doors, and insulate pipes in the garage or basement that you haven’t gotten to yet to avoid pipes from freezing and bursting into your home. Winter Storm Jonas may be gone, but winter isn’t over yet.
Enjoy the snow as much as you can. If you have plumbing problem, give Putman Plumbing a call.
As much as we love your business, the best way to show our appreciation is to tell you how to prevent plumbing problems from happening in 2016. We can’t predict what weather will come to Maryland in the year ahead, but we can turn to experts at The Old Farmer’s Almanac for an idea about what to expect.
According to the Almanac, winter will be colder and snowier than normal in the north, with the coldest periods in mid-January, mid-February, and early March. In extreme cold, it’s important to prevent pipes from freezing so they won’t burst and cause damage to your home.
April and May are expected to be cooler than normal, with below normal amounts of rainfall. This will be a good time to do some spring cleaning.
The Almanac predicts that summer in Maryland will be hotter and rainier than normal, with the hottest times in late June, mid-July, and much of August. A lot of rain could take place in the form of a tropical storm or hurricane from early August to mid-September.
September and October are expected to be warmer than normal, with above-normal rainfall.
All of us at Putman Plumbing wish you a safe and blessed New Year! If you need any plumbing advice, a new water heater, drain cleaning or anything else in 2016, give us a call.
Many of us in Frederick County enjoy watching the snow fall, but as it starts to build up inch by inch around our homes, it’s important to think about the damage it can cause when it melts. Let’s look at a few things you can do to reduce potential problems and claims on your homeowners insurance.
After it snows, it’s tempting to stay warm inside and leave the snow piled on windows, doors and the rest of the home for days. But it’s always best to clear the snow from doors and windows so that the snow doesn’t melt, enter your home and cause serious water damage. A home damaged by heavy snow may be covered, but a home damaged by the result of melting snow may not be.
Rapidly melting snow will saturate the soil around the foundation of your home. If that water gets into the basement or lower floors, it can ruin belongings, and it doesn’t take much water to cause serious structural damage. By regularly checking your sump pump, you can make sure it’s running correctly — that the check valve is properly fitted. A check valve only lets water flow one way and keeps pumped water from returning back through the line. If you hear the pump running too frequently, the check valve could be bad, allowing pumped water to return through it.
As the snow melts, pay attention to how often you hear your sump pump running. If you hear something that doesn’t sound right, it may be time to call a plumber before damage occurs.
This should be done before the storm hits. Make sure drains and gutters are clear of dirt and debris to prevent melting snow from getting trapped and causing clogs.
You may be tempted to turn your heat off or down very low to save on bills when you’re away from home, but to protect against plumbing accidents, leave the heat running at all times. If you don’t, pipes can freeze, causing them to burst and flood your home. And that damage would certainly cost more than a slightly elevated electric bill.
Enjoy the snow, but if you run into a plumbing problem, give Putman Plumbing a call.
While we’re all hoping this winter isn’t as severe as the last one, there’s a good possibility we’ll see ice, snow, and subzero temps in the near future. This would be a great week, while the weather is fairly quiet, to go out and stock up on winter storm supplies.
When we’re expecting half an inch of ice or more to settle on power lines, we can expect to lose power. Here are a few things to have that don’t require electricity:
We’ve talked about how to prevent frozen pipes by wrapping them with insulation, leaving cabinet doors open, leaving faucets dripping, and a few other things, but it’s always best to be prepared in case those measures don’t work.
Since a busted pipe can lead to contaminated drinking water, stock one gallon of clean water per person per day to last you several days. And if you are expecting severe weather and frigid temperatures, fill the bathtub with water ahead of time so you have plenty of water available.
Remember to never use an open flame to thaw a pipe. Instead, heat up the water on hand and wrap the pipe with hot rags, or put a space heater or blow dryer near the pipe to warm the air around it.
Keep shovels and plenty of rock salt around so you can clear and thaw driveways and sidewalks.
We at Putman Plumbing are always here to help. Give us a call if you have any concerns.